FAQ: I was injured in a car accident in Cherry Hill while making a delivery to a client. I am thinking of suing the other driver who hit me, workers’ comp said I have to pay back the benefits they paid for me, is that true?
Answer: Yes, that is true. Under New Jersey workers’ compensation law, if an injured employee recovers financial compensation from a third party who caused the employee’s work accident and injuries, workers’ comp has a right to recoup the financial benefits it paid on behalf of the injured employee. This is also known as a lien or the right to subrogate. Such benefits include:
- medical benefits,
- temporary total benefits,
- permanent partial benefits, and
- permanent total benefits.
If you needed extensive medical treatment, workers’ comp paid your medical expenses. You did not have to pay any money out of your own pocket. If you lost time from work, you received temporary total benefits, which are your wage loss benefits. However, you would have only received 70% of your average weekly wage.
Let’s assume that the amount of medical benefits and temporary total benefits paid by the workers’ comp carrier is $90,000. Let’s also assume that you sue the at-fault driver who caused the car accident, and you recover $200,000.
In this situation, you would need to reimburse the workers’ comp carrier. However, you do not have to pay back the entire $90,000. The amount is reduced by 1/3 per NJ law. Thus, the worker’s comp’s lien is $60,000, and not $90,000.
There is also another cost of $750 that needs to be deducted, and it is the cost associated with your third party litigation. That amount represents the workers’ comp carrier’s share of the litigation costs associated with your third party car accident lawsuit, and the amount is set by statute. After deducting $750 from $60,000, the amount you would have to pay back to the workers’ comp carrier is $59,250.
A question my clients often have about their third party lawsuits after a NJ workplace accident is what happens if they file a lawsuit and they don’t recover anything? The answer is, if the injured worker recovers nothing from the lawsuit, then the workers’ comp carrier does not have a lien. The injured NJ worker would not have to pay anything back even though a lawsuit was filed, but was unsuccessful.
Workers’ comp liens are often confusing. Many times, the summary of payments from the workers’ compensation carrier is inaccurate or lists unrelated payments. Only an experienced lawyer knows what costs should be part of the lien. Mr. Ciprietti fights for his clients and makes sure his clients receive the financial recovery they are entitled to after a workplace accident.
Mr. Ciprietti is a NJ workers’ compensation lawyer with over 35 years of experience. If you were injured while at work, call Mr. Ciprietti to explore your legal rights. You may have a third party claim on top of a workers’ comp claim. FREE consultations. 856.983.8695
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